From the afterword to Heartwood by Rosalia Cavalcante
I always knew that writing a book would change me in a way. All my life, I’ve believed in the transformative properties of literature and there are novels which meant a great deal to me when I was young. The ones that meant the most to me were the novels of a certain Stefano Como, whose books have entertained me greatly in my formative years. They’ve followed me for most of my life.
When I started writing Heartwood, I only had plans to further my career and saw the opportunity to talk to the son of my favourite writer as a good challenge. My initial interview with Teo was a disaster. He was grouchy and touchy and lied without rhyme or reason—thus, our first interview ended in hurled insults and me walking out in anger. Having read the biography, you already know about these proclivities of Teo’s and you know that there are good reasons for everything.
You also know that I went back, because otherwise you wouldn’t be holding this book in your hands, but I did go back and I wrote the book and it changed me. I just never could have imagined how.
This is where I admit that I am not an unbiased biographer. During the course of writing the biography, I came to admire my subject and it wasn’t an entirely professional sort of admiration.
Teo is a creative, practical, and gentle man, a sweet man, so fearful of his own temper that he ended up hiding away and here I am, exposing all of his secrets to the world. I hope that the readers have read my words as intended—they’re not an exposé or a hit piece, but an account of the man as I see him, or rather, how I’ve come to see him.
As already explained, my views on him weren’t so charitable after our first meeting, but once we started again and got to know each other, my opinion gradually changed. I came to admire him for his abilities and the cabin he built in the woods and I started to sympathise with his plight as I realised that we both had an isolated childhood. Eventually, I came to like him very genuinely as a person and considered him a great friend, someone I didn’t mind spending time with outside of a work setting. He’s as gentle and kind as he is big and gruff which is why I fell in love with him.
Heartwood isn’t just a biography and it isn’t just my work. Had I written it without becoming so intimately acquainted with Teo, it wouldn’t be the same book. In a way, even though he never touched pen to paper, it’s a shared creation. We shaped the biography together and it shaped us just the same. The person I was before Teo could never have written this book and the Teo I met for our first interview could never have been the subject of this version.
I’m still glad that I chose to return to Teo’s cabin after the first interview and I’m glad that it led to me being the person I am now—the writer of a decent, if somewhat biased biography, and a woman who loves Teo Como with all my heart.
Author’s note: Hi guys, and welcome to the final chapter of Heartwood. I know, I know, it’s very soon, but since it’s so short, I wanted it out of the way. I imagine these are just excerpts from Lia’s famous, sappy afterword. I originally wanted to write it all, but first of all, I don’t think I could do it justice. Second, I have for a very long time felt like I was done with Heartwood. It’s not that I don’t love it or the characters. It’s more that I’m not the person I was when I started this story, and I don’t think I ever will be again. Most of you know by now that I went through a messy break-up (twice) and it took a mental toll that I don’t feel like I’ve completely recovered from yet. And even when I do recover, I’ll never be the Louise who started writing Heartwood in 2020. I love this story and what it ended up being, but I’m also ready to move on.
Thanks so much if you went on the journey through the story with me. I have many kind and thoughtful readers. Your comments always make me smile and they make me think about my own work. Even the likes thattick in when I post a new chapter are meaningful and have motivated me to keep going even when this story was hard to get through. I’ll be doing my usual reflections soon – writers gotta write (about their own writing) after all. But before I stop entirely, here are some wedding pics, since this chapter didn’t have many of them.
Teo’s family. From left to right: Teo’s mother, Clementina Como, his brother, Nevio Como, and his girlfriend Caterina Dioli.
Lia’s family. From left to right: Amadeo Calvacante and his husband Rinaldo Aiello. Lia’s mother, Georgette Desjardins with her husband, Bastien. Finally, Lia’s sister-in-law Regina Mancini-Cavalcante with Lia’s oldest brother, Vincente ‘Enzo’ Cavalcante.
And since I realised that I love Enzo and Gina with all my heart, have a close-up. These babes, I swear~
And finally, Teo’s distant cousin, Costanza Sartore, with her husband Lorenzo Sartore.
Since some wanted to see, here’s a closer look at the rings I made for Lia and Teo. I know, I know, normally you have separate rings for engagement/wedding, but uh, I wasn’t going to make another ring. So it became their wedding rings as well. 😊
I’m sorry that this ended up being a fairly low-effort last chapter. I know it’s clear I’m checked out at this point, but I can’t be entirely sorry. As much as I loved doing this – I’m ready for something different.
Now, I don’t entirely know what’s next. It’s either Clarity (gen 3) or it’s a palate cleanser that’s entirely different. You’ll know when I know what I want to do. For now, I’d like to add another thanks to everyone who stuck around this long. It’s been a shaky ride through what should have been an easy, simple side story, but it was still a joy to go through because of you guys. I hope everyone is doing well and I’ll see you all when it’s time for those reflections.
I love you all so very, very much,